Second step in this trip in the French vineyards: the Bordeaux vineyard! Located in Gironde, this terroir is full of secrets…
How well do you know the Bordeaux vineyard?
The Bordeaux vineyard has a surface area of 117,500 hectares of vines with 40 AOC (Protected Designation of Origin) and 2 IGP (Protected Geographical Indication). Planted on clay-limestone, gravelly and sandy soils, the grape varieties are for red wines: Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc; and for white wine: Semillon, Sauvignon and Muscadelle.
Thanks to its proximity to the Atlantic Ocean, the vineyard benefits from an oceanic climate: winters are mild and humid and summers are not too hot.
A few numbers
• There are around 8,650 chateaux in the Bordeaux vineyard, 300 trading houses and 93 brokers
•;Production distributioon: 89% red and rosé wine, 11% dry and sweet white wine
• The vineyard is separated into 6 regions: Médoc, Blaye et Bourg, Libournais, Entre-Deux-Mers, Graves et Sauternais, Bordeaux et Bordeaux Supérieur
•;The INAO (national institute for the origin and quality) recognized the first wine appellation on July 30th 1935
On the landscape side, the Bordeaux vineyard comes to life around two rivers: the Garonne and the Dordogne which flow into the Gironde Estuary at the Pointe de Grave. The relief of the Médoc plateau is not very pronounced and is well protected by the Landes Forest, just like Graves and Sauternes. Whereas to the east of Bordeaux, the vineyards of Saint-Emilion and Pomerol are higher, at around 100m altitude, with more pronounced valleys.
The classification des Grands Crus Classés de Bordeaux de 1855
The 1855 classification was established at the request of Napoleon III in order to present Bordeaux wines at the Universal Exhibition held in Paris that same year. Naturally developed around the four “premiers crus” which already had a great reputation at the time for their quality, the classification was for : Haut-Brion, Lafite, Latour and Margaux.
The other Bordeaux owners wanted the same benefits, so the brokers had the duty to taste and classify all the wines from châteaux that wished to be classified. Then, they based themselves on three criteria: soil, price and prestige; selecting only wines from the Médoc, Graves, Sauternes and Barsac. Thus, the classification became part of the customs and is still in use today.
From the middle of the 20th century, new classifications were created in order to counter, in a way, the 1855 classification: the Classification des Crus Bourgeois, the Classification des vins de Graves, the Classification des vins de Saint-Emilion, and the Classification des crus artisans.
What wine and food pairings?
After hearing the story of the vineyard, let’s go deeper: what to eat with Bordeaux wines?
If you prefer cold meats, we advise you to serve a light and fruity red wine, like a Bordeaux (red) for a classic pairing. For more originality, you can drink a round and structured red wine such as a Blaye or a Côtes de Bordeaux (red).
For the Green team who wants to pair their salad with wine, you can serve a fruity and fresh rosé (Bordeaux rosé) or a fruity dry white wine (Entre-Deux-Mers). To be served chilled!
For a classic pairing with duck: a round and structured red wine (Bordeaux Supérieur), you can’t go wrong. But, if you are searching for a gourmet pairing, you can try a sweet white wine like a Sauternes!
Want to try snails? Prefer a pairing with a white from the Graves working perfectly with the freshness and fat;to underline the snail garlic butter. For an original pairing, you can serve a young and fruity Bordeaux red to highlight the aromas of the snails.
Being close to the Bassin of Arcachon, you can’t miss a pairing between seafood and white wine! We appreciate a dry white Bordeaux wine that is lively and fruity to bring out the liveliness of the oysters. On the contrary, choose a sweet mellow and fruity white Bordeaux to contrast with the saltiness of the seafood.
For creamy cheeses (goat’s cheese), favour a lively and fruity dry white Bordeaux for a very fresh pairing, or a soft and fruity sweet white Bordeaux for a slightly sweet mouthfeel.
On the other hand, for hard cheeses, you can choose a dry white Pessac-Léognan to develop the “hazelnut” side of the cheese. For an original agreement, a soft and fruity red Bordeaux will be perfect to contrast with the tight texture of these cheeses.
Cérons sweet wines with candied fruit aromas will go perfectly with every dessert for an original match. In order to balance the sweetness of the desserts, favour fresh rosés or lively and fruity dry whites.
Who says Bordeaux, says necessarily canelés! You can choose either a young Sauternes for its fruitiness and liveliness,;or a dry white Crémant de Bordeaux to give a festive touch to the canelé.
How to visit Bordeaux?
Discover the vineyard of Bordeaux as you wish, and you have the choice! Indeed, with its 6 wine routes, you won’t know where to start! Take advantage of the wine trails to unlock the secrets of the Bordeaux region on foot, by bike, on horseback or by car, or sail on the Garonne River while discovering the vineyards by boat!
Whether for a few hours, a day or even several days, anything is possible in the Bordeaux vineyards;and the châteaux are ready to welcome you to share their passion with you.;
They have prepared breathtaking services for you such as gourmet tasting visits, horse-drawn carriage rides,;specialized workshops and tastings of old vintages.
Here are a few unmissable châteaux of the region: Château Malartic Lagravière in Pessac-Léognan, Château Baudan in Médoc, Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey in Sauternes and Château La Gaffelière in Saint-Emilion…
Since its opening on June 1st 2016, the Cité du Vin has been an asset for the Bordeaux vineyards. A cultural site unique in the world for its architecture and the cultures it represents,;the museum approaches wine as a cultural, universal and living heritage. Today it represents an essential stopover for any wine lover coming to Bordeaux!
What are you waiting for? The Bordeaux vineyard is waiting for you!